In football there is “SEC Speed”. In basketball there is “Big Ten size”. Both of these have been mentioned so often as the keys to success, that regardless of their accuracy, they are viewed as truisms. Of course, there is speed outside the SEC, and supposedly slow Big Ten teams can embarrass speedy southerners. Unfortunately for Big Ten basketball teams, there is plenty of size in other conferences, and judging the Big Ten’s record against other major conference teams, size doesn’t always matter. I mention these not rabble rouse or create another debate about who is better and why, but to try to offer a bit of context on the non-rapid, non-ascent of Jonathan Williams.

He was obviously recruited for his size. He has the stereotypical “Big Ten Body”. Based on his size alone, he could play on both sides of the ball for a lot of football teams. He takes up tons of space. His mere presence on the court should change a game. Unfortunately, coming up on his sixth season since high school, he barely qualifies as a role player.

What we like

Despite all his short comings, Jonathan Williams has shown flashes of being an impact player. In a few games last year, where the Gophers couldn’t grab a rebound, inserting Williams into the line up helped. Of course, this may have more to with who he replaced, the anemic rebounding Spencer Tollackson, than anything Williams did. But the job of every player is to make the team better, and he did that on occasions. Williams also has shown hints of slightly more polished offensive game. He has made a few jump shots, and has a few nice moves with his back to the basket.  Finally, he can be intimidating on defense. He won’t always block a shot, but there is the very real risk he will block an opponents head into stands. No one wants a concussion.

What needs to improve

In really no order at all:

  1. defense
  2. shooting
  3. court awareness
  4. rebounding
  5. passing
  6. propensity to foul
  7. free throws
  8. list your favorite here

Unfortunately, Williams is 6 years out of high school, and you can’t teach an old big man new tricks.

What to expect

Williams will have a successful season if he is merely serviceable. No one is expecting greatness, or for him to win any games. For the Gophers to be successful, he will need to keep the team from losing, and of that he is capable. His main role will be filling in when others having foul trouble, or an emergency rebounder when things are bleak. He has the size, but does he know how to use  it?